The temperatures have plunged below zero, and the days are now dark.
I mean it – it is 3pm and the sun has already set. We barely get 6 hours of daylight now, and it is going to get to less than that before the Winter Solstice.
I’m not complaining, mind you – this is the weather to celebrate, to light candles, and to eat gorgeous winter foods, even if it’s just the two of us having a midweek dinner. Why? Well, because it’s dark out, it’s now winter, and generally – why the heck not? Just because.
So the other evening I went foraging in the fridge and came up with various festive-food odds and ends that have been languishing there from having been bought to be used elsewhere and subsequently not used, or left over like a few lonely fingerling potatoes left behind after I roasted most of the bag a few days ago, an apple that has spent at least a month in the back of the crisper, an opened log of chevre and a plastic-wrapped and still-gorgeous radicchio that I didn’t remember buying or even what I’d originally wanted it for.
I looked at it all and a light went on in my head – a quick search of the meat drawer revealed a pack of streaky bacon (I usually keep that around), and the back of the crisper held not one but two bags of lemons. One with just the one lemon remaining, meaning the older of the two. A quick text to T on his way back from work later, and I had a bag of sprouts arrive at home alongside the daily milk.
And this, essentially, all it took to put together this meal, which frankly, was the best one I’d eaten in a while (and that’s me talking – I aspire to eat gorgeously every day!), and it’s a wonderful example of how random leftover vegetables, fruit and odds and ends can become something beautiful.
Best of all, this dinner is nearly effortless. And when I, queen of lazy food say so, I really do mean it. What follows is not so much a recipe as a guideline, to be modified based on what you have at home and what you like – prefer oranges to lemons? It may well turn out better with one! Have eggs or ham instead of bacon? Toss the ham in towards the end of the roasting, and poach the egg to be served oozingly over the potatoes and the sprouts! This is not a lesson in cooking, but in imagination – which, I believe, is the most important ingredient of them all.
What I used – Feel free to modify! Feeds 2 very hungry people.
- 500g brussel sprouts, washed, bottoms trimmed if necessary
- 3 fingerling potatoes, washed, cut up
- 125g pack of smoked streaky bacon (feel free to use what you have on hand in any permutation – back bacon, salt pork, gammon, ham, or even eggs – see suggestion above). Or even a few pieces of halloumi cheese, cut up and tossed on top of the vegetables towards the end of roasting process.
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 of a 2-girly-fist-(or one-man-fist)-sized radicchio
- A little olive oil to dress the salad and add to pan if needed
- 1 green apple (partially eaten while cooking…)
- About 100g slice of chevre, rind trimmed off. Feta may work just as well, to be honest.
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon – feel free to sub citrus of your choice!
- Cut up and fry the bacon gently in a large oven-safe pan. I did not use any added oil. Tip: if you start with a fairly cool pan and use fatty streaky bacon, the bacon will melt enough to not stick anyway. If using back bacon or such, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan first.
- In meantime, cut and tear radicchio into a bowl. Zest and juice your 1/2 lemon.
- Cut, core and chop the apple. I think I ate about half of it before it made into the salad. Add to the salad bowl.
- Crumble goat’s cheese into the salad, dress with lemon juice and olive oil and stick in the refrigerator till the rest is done.
- When bacon is ready, remove it to a paper-towel lined plate, and set aside. Add sprouts and potatoes to the pan, and roll them in the bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper and pop into the 225°C oven for about 20 minutes. This will depend on your oven, sprout and potato chunk size – roast until tender, and the outer leaves of the sprouts just begin to turn a little brown.
- If using ham or halloumi, add this to the vegetables about 15 minutes into the cooking process, and allow to brown lightly. Otherwise, add the bacon when ready, and allow to stand in turned-off oven for 2 minutes to heat it up.
- Stir the remaining lemon juice into the roasted vegetables, and plate them out. Remove your salad from fridge, give it a toss, and add on the side of each plate. Done.